If you are interested in learning to read the bones for yourself and others I have written a book that explains and demonstrates my method of bone reading. No two readers read alike and while I can show you how I read the bones, I can not teach you how you will read them. My goal in writing this book was not to teach you pieces and meanings to memorize by rote. My goal was to give you the information you need to develop meanings for your bone set and to interpret throws for yourself. Actual readings are explained piece by piece with illustrations so that you can follow along and see the mechanics of reading. You can read more information on my book in this blog post.
I am also available to teach my method of bone reading one on one or in a small group setting. I can teach in person or via video Skype. The nature of this type of divination requires a visual method of communication so I can not teach by telephone or email. My rates for one on one teaching are the same as for a reading. If you are interested in one on one training, a group class or having me teach at your shop or venue, please contact me.
I am often asked how many one on one classes would be needed to learn this method. I think one class is enough to get you reading at a basic level. After practicing on your own for a while a second class can be scheduled to go over any problems you may be having and to teach you some advanced techniques. You should have a set of bones before you schedule a one on one class with me.
“Thank you very much, you have such an amazing gift for the art and I’m just glad I had the chance to study with you! One of the best things that has helped me is developing that relationship with my ancestors and spirit in general – everything else really does go from there. I honestly felt more connected to my bones today when reading with you then I ever have before!”
This was a very informative class. I learned what I needed to know so that I feel comfortable reading the bones. I actually didn’t expect to learn as much as I did!! I really liked that she didn’t claim this was THE way to do a reading – but explained that its what works for her after years of studying the different methods. After all, I believe that’s how spirit works.
Michelle Jackson is a great teacher. She’s always well prepared, bringing hand-outs and a ton of wisdom. She has mastered the subjects she teaches and makes her knowledge easily accessible to her students. I have loved all the classes I have taken with her. Intro to Divination with Bones, Shells and Curios was well worth the time and money invested.
I’m back! It is summer vacation for me with no classes till August. I have several items to review before school starts again and this is the first.
Tsura Nuri of Tarot by Seven posted a painted bone reading set in the Facebook Bone Reading Group and offered it for sale. I tried to purchase it, but someone beat me to it. Fortunately she offered to make another set for me. She offered me several options as to design such as shiny or matte, and highly decorated or more primitive. I asked for a set with samples of each. I must say that I am very pleased with the set I received.
The number of pieces in each set varies depending on availability, and per Tsura “depending on the chicken.” Most sets are made from chicken bones, which have been painted with acrylic paint, Prismacolor pens and then coated with several coats of polyurethane in most cases, though some of the bones in my set appear to have been left matte as I requested. Some sets are made with Cornish Game Hens as well. There is a sheet with a photo of the set with suggested meanings for the various pieces. Of course you are free to adapt or change the interpretations as you see fit. The pieces that are highly decorated such as the piece with a house, and the piece with clasped hands, easily lend themselves to interpretation. My set also has some pieces that are just decorated with symbols such as stripes, and dots where the meanings are deliberately unassigned to allow you to assign any meaning you wish to them.
There are a significant number (20) of vertebrae painted in different colors. A suggested use/meaning was provided for them as well, but were I to actually read with this set, I most likely would assign them to people and maybe decorate them further to distinguish male from female.
I have seen other sets that Tsura has painted that have symbols specifically requested by the person who ordered the set. As an artist I love the idea of painting scenes and symbols on bones. The end result is attractive, and it makes the meanings easier to learn. Tsura is a skilled artist and the pieces have wonderful detail, especially considering the small scale and the curved surface she was working with.
I have pieces in my reading set that have been decorated with markers and paint to distinguish which side of the bone is showing, or to assign other distinguishing characteristics to pieces that would be otherwise difficult to distinguish one from the other, such as cowrie shells. But this is the first set I have seen that has almost every piece decorated with paint. I think we will be seeing more people painting pieces of their sets in a similar fashion in the future.
Painted Bone Set available for special order from Tarot by Seven. Hit the button that says “Request Special Order.”
You can also find information on how to read the bones on her website: https://www.tarotbyseven.com/bone-casting
Happy Bone Reading!
Last weekend I was in Denver to present at the Mile High Conjure Gala. I was honored to be presenting with several great workers – Co Meadows of the Hoodoo Queen, Ambrozine LeGare, Professor Ames of the Skullbone Emporium, Professor Porterfield, and Candelo Kimbisa of Candelo’s Corner who was the master of ceremonies.
The day was set up so that everyone could attend every class with time between classes set aside for readings. The day began with a ceremony for the ancestors and spirits. The spirits were definitely in attendance and it set the tone in a perfect way for the day.
First up for classes was Co Meadow’s class on baby dolls. This was a class on old school conjure. None of those store bought doll babies – these were made of socks, sticks, Spanish moss and herbs. As Co explained people used to use what they had on hand and if you could get someone’s sock you had the additional advantage of using a personal concern in your work. We each made a doll baby and Co provided information on how to take care of and work with the doll babies we made. I really enjoyed his class!
Next up was Ambrozine LeGare who taught a class on spiritual cleansing, with an emphasis on spiritual cleansing for those who do spiritual work for themselves or others. Her class was was straight forward, no nonsense information on the hows and whys of spiritual cleansing. She also provided several great recipes for cleansing baths, which I am sure I will be adding to my arsenal. I loved that she explained why she does things the way she does, and how she chooses the herbs and ingredients she uses in her customized cleansing products. She also covered areas that are often neglected in cleansing classes such as cleansing pets. Great class!
Professor Porterfield, author of several books including A Deck of Spells: Hoodoo Playing Card Magic in Rootwork and Conjure, taught a very interesting class on playing card magic. He talked about how to use regular playing cards for all types of work. He began by giving a brief history of playing cards, and explained that people have been using them for occult purposes almost from the beginning. Professor Porterfield discussed why they were such a versatile magical tool, and how they could be used for several different types of work with examples. Of course the Professor has a one of a kind presentation style so you had fun as you were learning.
Professor Ames of The Skullbone Emporium gave a class on Mojo bags. I was otherwise occupied and unable to attend his class, but all of the feedback I heard about it indicates that it was much enjoyed by those who did attend. It was another hands on class where the participants were able to make their own mojo bag for whatever purpose they wanted to. I was able to purchase one of his oils though, and he gifted me a new piece for my bone set. I will definitely make it my business to attend next year.
My class on bone reading was a 72 slide PowerPoint presentation where I provide some background information on bone reading, show and discuss several different bone reading sets and styles, and ultimately have the class do a brief reading together. However, the spirits had other plans. We could not get the projector to cooperate. Things would go well for a few slides and then the projector would say there was no connection. We checked all the connections, restarted the slide show only to get the same message a few slides in. I have given this presentation before with no problems, my laptop is pretty state of the art, and the fact that the presentation would start just fine only to quickly fizzle out leaves me at a loss as to what the problem was. When it was clear that we could not identify, let alone fix the problem I decided to get my bones and just talk about them instead. Thankfully this change in plans was well received by the group and I was able to do some of the things I wanted to do seated on the floor with everyone gathered around. I was so flustered I forgot to tell folks what was in the swag bags so for those who attended, those are coyote foot bones.
Candelo Kimbisa of Candelo’s Corner finished out the class portion of the day and we then went on to the dinner for the dead, and the Gala portion of the day. The food was good, though I really missed the salt, and the party after dinner was jumping with a bar and live DJs. What happens at the Mile High Conjure Gala, stays at the Mile High Conjure Gala, but I will say that a good time was had by all! I am so looking forward to next year’s gala!
Lest I forget to mention it, the festival was held in a haunted mansion named The Lumber Baron Inn. It is now a bed and breakfast/ fine dining restaurant and bar. The classes were held in the ballroom, which was perfect for this use. There were a lot of vendors from the area and several of the presenters brought their own products to sell as well. There were also readers available between the classes including local bone reader R.J. James*. As a presenter who has done several events in the past, I have to say that this was one of the best festivals of this type that I have ever had the pleasure of teaching at. Our hosts took care of our every need and made it all look easy, even though this was the first time for this event. Loretta, a.k.a. The Death Witch whose dream was the genesis of the gala, and whose planning and coordination made it happen, can be justifiably proud of her brainchild. Thank you Loretta. And a special thank to the owner of the inn, Elaine Bryant. So many other folks helped to make this event seamless – thanks to you all!
If you were interested in magic, rootwork, conjure, divination, ancestor and/or spirit work you should start planning now to attend next year. It will only be bigger and better. I know it’s early, but I am posting 2018 contact info now – email@example.com. I would be very surprised if next year doesn’t sell out quickly.
P.S. Rumor has it that Starr Casas may be a presenter at next year’s gala.
If you are in the Denver area R.J. James can be reached for readings at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Bone Reading!
I found the Promise Land Tannery Animal Bones Divination Set while looking for real animal bone lots on Etsy to put into a little swag bag for my presentation at the Mile High Conjure Gala. It is a very nice set with a good selection of animal bones, teeth, and claws which can be used as is if you like, or which can be used as the foundation for a larger set.
I don’t know if all the sets are identical as it has been my experience that availability of various pieces can vary over time, but my set came with the following:
- American Badger (Claw)
- Armadillo (Scute from shell)
- Bobcat (Tooth)
- Cottontail (Bone)
- Coyote (Bone)
- Horse (Tooth)
- Moose (Tooth)
- Mule Deer (Tooth)
- Muskrat (Bone)
- Raccoon (Bone)
- Red Fox (Tooth)
- Weasel (Bone)
- Buckskin finished rabbit hide
I am calling it the Promise Land Tannery Animal Bones Divination Set because that is what the card on the set says, but the name of the Etsy shop is Furries Leather and Fur Shop, and they have a wide selection of bones, teeth, claws, horns, furs, and other cleaned and processed animal parts for sale. You can order the set as shown or you can make a custom request. If they are sold out, you might want to try asking them to put a set together for you.
Shameless Self Promotion
If you are in the Denver area on the 28th of October, come out and see me at the Mile High Conjure Gala. I will be doing a class on bone reading, and there will be several great workers teaching:
- Candelo Kimbisa (Host)
- Co. Meadows
- Elaine Bryant
- Professor Ames
- Professor Porterfield
- Brother R. J. James
- Ambrozine LeGare
- Michele Jackson
It is an all day event with the schedule arranged to maximize the amount of classes you can take, and you can also purchase a ticket for the Dinner of the Dead with the presenters.
Happy Bone Reading!
I have a PowerPoint presentation on bone divination that I give from time to time. In it I have a bone set made from items found on my daily dog walks, and items that I found lying around the house. I use it to show what you can put together for free if you are willing to take the time to get outdoors into the fresh air and look around your home with an eye to what could be used as a divination piece. I live in an urban area. While a few of the items in this set came from city parks that are flush with trees and wildlife, most of the outdoor pieces were picked up from the street, curb, or edges of the front lawns I pass while walking my dog every day. Those pieces make up the first three rows of the photo.
I am blessed to have many friends and acquaintances who gift me beautiful pieces, many one of a kind, as possible additions to my bone sets. I chose not to include any of them in this thrown together set. The things from my home were gathered on a quick look around my house for odds and ends.
The first four bones are from a tasty dinner of buffalo style wings. I cleaned them myself and bleached them lightly with a weak hydrogen peroxide solution. I rarely cook a whole chicken, but if I wanted more bones I would do so and I would definitely salvage the wishbone. The next two rows are things I got from my home.
These held pencil leads for mechanical pencils. I have thought of either painting them or covering them with beads. They open and could be used to store magical ingredients as well.
Instead of costing money, this set made me money. This is some of the change I have found on my walks. I live in Southern California – 15 miles from the US/Mexico border so finding Mexican coins is not unheard of.
Most, if not all of these seeds and pods come from ornamental trees, plants, and shrubbery in the front yards of the homes I walk by each day. Twigs are also plentiful and are often different enough in color and texture to be easily distinguishable from one another in a set.
I found this bone stripped clean like this. I have also found small animal bones on the lake shore in a nearby trail park, but I always suspect that they are the remains of a picnic lunch. I come across dead animals fairly frequently on my walks, but I have yet to pick any up for personal use. They are rarely there again the next day as the city is good about picking them up, so they are not around long enough to decay down to the skeleton.
This set has over 50 pieces and it cost me nothing but some time. It shows that you can put a decent set together without spending any money if you are willing to build your set slowly over time. It also shows that you can expand a basic or starter set very easily and inexpensively.
If you are willing to spend a couple of dollars you can expand it even further with dollar store rocks and shells. This brought the net cost up to a little more than $0.40 with tax.
This is the last post I will be doing for 2016. My next post will be in late January 2017.
Happy Holidays and may the year 2017 be your best year ever!
I have several roots and other organic pieces in my bone sets. One of them is Little John to Chew or Galangal (Alpinia galanga).
Per Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic, Little John to Chew is believed to be lucky for court cases. I have also seen it described as being used, along with other ingredients, to keep the law away.*
I use it primarily to represent court cases and legal matters. However, if the client is not involved in any legal issues at the time I sometimes interpret it as a warning to be honest, and above-board in all of their dealings, and to do things by the book. Avoid short-cuts or cutting corners. Cross every “t,” and dot every “i.” Failure to do so could lead to future legal issues.
Pieces nearby can shed more light on this piece. If it is near the heart, perhaps a divorce or family matter may end up in the courts. If it is near a large sum of money it can indicate receiving (or paying) a settlement. I often see this piece when the client is considering starting a business of some type. It can be a warning to get all agreements or contracts in writing, and/or to enlist the services of a lawyer before signing anything.
It is a sturdy root and mine have held up well for several years now. You can get it from shops that sell hoodoo herbs, or from shops that sell Asian spices as it is used in cooking some Asian dishes. It is a member of the ginger family (sometimes called “Thai Ginger”). Don’t buy the fresh version – get the dried with whole pieces, not slices. You can read more about this root in Dr. E’s article about the three Johns.
*Hoodoo, Conjuration, Witchcraft, Rootwork by Harry Middleton Hyatt, Volume One, Page 609, Spell 2097
Khi Armand is an author, rootworker, and diviner. He has written two books – Deliverance: Hoodoo Spells of Uncrossing, Healing, and Protection, and Clearing Spaces: Inspirational Techniques to Heal Your Home, scheduled for release January 2017.
- How did you get started in bone reading?
My introduction to bone reading actually happened during my first visit to the Lucky Mojo Curio Company in Forestville, CA. I just happened to catch the proprietor, ms. catherine yronwode, as she was working that day. We sat down on the ground and she gave me a short impromptu palm reading. She said that based on my aptitude for performance (as seen in my palm) I’d be particularly good at bone reading, and that they had just started stocking sets in the store. I picked one up that day.
- How long have you been reading bones?
I’ve been reading them for about 4 years now.
- Did you have any teachers? Who?
Well, you’ve been one of them! There was a time when my spirits were really nudging me to work more with my bones and you provided me with a wonderful session that went far in boosting my confidence with them. Then there’s been ms. catherine yronwode. And I’d be loath to not mention your incredible book, Bones, Shells, & Curios.
- Where did you get your bone pieces?
Some of the bone pieces I started out with have been replaced by pieces that feel more true to me, coming from dice sets, natural history stores, and found objects and tchotchkes.
- How many bones in your set?
At the moment, there are 47 pieces in my bone set. I imagine that it will be in flux for the rest of my life – I’m always adding pieces and, sometimes, removing ones that no longer feel helpful as my practice evolves.
- Do you use a special cloth or reading surface?
I do. I have a small goat skin for reading bones on.
- Did you do any consecration ceremony for them?
Yes, I tend to do a fair amount of re-consecrating as I feel the need arises or as I add new pieces to my bone set. Smoking my pieces in an appropriate incense blend is how I usually accomplish this.
- Do you cleanse them?
I do cleanse my bones – my own tend to like to being sprayed with floral waters and perfumes between sessions.
- Do you do anything special before a reading – invocations, prayers, etc?
I do – because my bone set has so many different pieces in it that speak to so many different aspects of my practice and the different traditions I’m a part of, I like to affirm both my and my clients’ connection to all things, including primordial elemental forces, before starting a bone reading. In a way, all creation is welcome at the table to speak on behalf of this person’s destiny and current experience of reality as represented by so many different bones, stones, metals, and other objects present in my set. It’s the most shamanic of my mechanical divinatory tools – that is, those that actually require physical movement or manipulation.
- How do you think the bones work? Ancestors? Spirits? Etc.
Of all my mechanical divinatory tools (versus outright mediumship and shamanic journeywork), bone reading is by far my most mediumis
tic. Something about throwing them triggers immediate spirit contact for me so, although I’m reading the bones on my skin, talking to them and seeing their placement in relation to one another, I’m also receiving a great amount information from my helping spirits. I have a female African ancestor who is particularly drawn to my bone reading work and we make a great team.
- Do you throw all of your bones or some subset?
I tend to throw all of my bones.
- Do you read for yourself? Some people feel that they do not do well reading for themselves.
I’ve given myself very few bone readings over the years as I tend toward tarot and shamanic trance work when investigating personal issues, which I generally like to do piecemeal, like exploring and repairing part of an airplane mid-flight. My bone readings, though they can clue into specific information, tend to be very broad in scope, like a 72-card tarot layout, and it’s very rare for me to seek out something like that for myself.
- Do you teach bone reading?
I haven’t had any requests but I’d certainly be open to it.
- What advice do you have for bone readers just starting out?
One would be to get your book, Bones, Shells, and Curios, and another would be to get readings from many different reputable readers. Seeing different peoples’ styles and interpretation methods can be tremendous support to one’s own practice.
- Do you read professionally?
Happy Bone Reading!
I got this set from The Ritual Witch Shop over a year ago, and sadly they are no longer available. The shop owner says that she will have sets with different pieces after the New Year, so if you are interested check back after the holidays.
A one page sheet with brief suggested meanings came with the set. As previously stated this set is no longer available but The Ritual Witch Shop plans to offer bone sets again after the New year.
Happy Bone Reading!
I have a canine tooth in both my sets. They are naturally colored on the tooth end and darkened on the root end. I originally had a dog bone in my sets, but when I got the teeth I replaced the dog bones because I felt using a tooth gave me a wider choice of meanings. I interpreted the dog bone as the good qualities of dogs – faithful, loyal, protective, companions. The bi-colored tooth gave me the option of adding a more negative interpretation. So the tooth could be the faithful, protective, loyal companion, or it could be the snarling, growling, biting, attacking dog.
The dark end seems to come up in readings more often than the lighter end. I find that when the dark side is prominent in relationship questions it can indicate arguments, disagreements, or tension in the relationship. Almost all relationships will experience these things, but when this side of the tooth is in a prominent position, the fighting could be becoming more frequent or more of a problem. It can also represent anger on the part of the client and a need or desire to fight for oneself. Conversely, if the light side is prominent, the person is probably loyal, faithful, and protective.
I got the teeth I use at a gem show, but you can find teeth from canines on Ebay or Etsy.
Happy Bone Reading!
P.S. I will be a guest on Candelo’s Corner Monday the 24th of October. I would love to see you in the chat-room.
*These are sample interpretations for illustrative use only. You may see a different interpretation based on your own experience or understanding.
Mother Maggie’s Travel Bone Set
Mother Maggie’s Travel Bone Sets are small sets similar to the Pocket Bone Sets by The Mystic Cartel, which makes sense since the pieces themselves and the instructions are sourced from The Mystic Cartel. What makes these sets unique is their packaging and the fact that each set has different contents. Some sets have the familiar round tin of Pocket Bone Set, but you can also get them in antique tins, or even a Sucrets tin. The number and type of pieces vary depending on the container, and the prices vary accordingly.
The sets come with four pages of instructions to get you started, and the set can be used as is, or as a starter set to build upon. There is room in the tin for more pieces should you decide to add pieces.
You can order a set here.
Oracle Bone Set – All Porcupine Bones
I got this set from Etsy early this year. The vendor does not have any items for sale at this time so I am not including the link as I am not sure they are in business any longer. I am an unrepentant collector of bone divination sets and the fact that I do not read the bones using a one species method did not dampen my collecting instincts.
This set was described as follows:
“27 Various Porcupine Bones
12 Porcupine Quills (Sharp Points Removed)
3 Porcupine Molars
1 Extra Large Porcupine Claw
1 Smaller Porcupine Claw with some Hair On
1 Quartz Crystal Point” *
This set also comes with a shell that could be used for storage and/or casting, and a drawstring bag. The largest bone is almost 4 inches long. The larger bones have a clear sealant applied which gives them a glossy shine. If I were going to use this set I would remove the gloss with a very fine sand paper as I don’t care for it, but some may find it both appealing and/or useful. There were no instructions in the set – the seller suggests purchasing a book on the topic if one is so inclined.
One species sets usually use bones from a chicken or opossum, making this set somewhat unusual. If you are interested in one species style bone divination you can get an overview and some suggestions on how it is done in Throwing the Bones: How to Foretell the Future with Bones, Shells, and Nuts by Catherine Yronwode.
Happy Bone Reading!
*From Item description on Etsy
I have a friend who is a medium, who brings a bag of trinkets to her sessions. When the spirits have problems communicating she will have them choose a curio and expand on its meaning. I began putting items together for that purpose, and realized I had all the elements of a bone reading kit.
I believe it was around 2010 when I started.
I relied mostly on my spirit guides and the pieces themselves to educate me initially. I also joined various groups and sought out other readers, and learned plenty of tricks from them. Cat Yronwode’s book Throwing The Bones was highly influential. I encouraged several of my friends to get into the practice so that I could in turn learn from them.
There was a shop in Albany called The Bone Room that I frequented, but regrettably it is gone now.* I’ve gotten some of my favorite pieces from Lucky Mojo as well. Since my friends know that I do bone throwing I am frequently gifted bones.
38· How long did it take you to put your set together?
I built to that number quickly, but with some pieces that were less than ideal and were later switched for others. Since I also read Lenormand, I patterned my initial set after that system.· Are you still adding pieces?
I am not expanding on my current set, however as things deteriorate I switch them out. Some items change their meanings subtly over time, so I need to make adjustments occasionally.
· Do you use a special cloth or reading surface?
I have an old, shallow wooden box that I favor, as it allows me to throw them on a table without the fear of pieces falling to the ground. Interestingly, I have designed some reading cloths, and although I have used them well, I always default to my old wooden box.
· Did you do any consecration ceremony for them?
I sometimes will rub some oils or Hoyt’s cologne on a piece to feed it, but that is about it.
· Do you cleanse them?
If I have used them in a reading that has left me feeling dirty or sticky, which sometimes happens, then yes, I will cleanse them, most often by spreading the pieces out and blowing white sage smoke over them.
· Do you do anything special before a reading – invocations, prayers, etc?
I have a simple way of connecting with Spirit that is internal. Really I just focus my attention away from the mundane and towards the presence of my guides so that they may speak to me. If I feel that the person I am reading for will benefit by beginning with a prayer, which many find soothing, then I will pray accordingly.
· How do you think the bones work? Ancestors? Spirits? Etc.
I definitely rely on my guides to help me interpret the bones. Each bone, or curio that I use has it’s own identity though, it’s own indwelling spirit that has something definitive to say. I have tried on occasion to find a bone to represent a certain quality, but there is more a play here than creating a symbolic system, since each bone defines itself despite what I might try to establish.
· Do you throw all of your bones or some subset?
I usually throw them all, however I will sometimes have a client reach into my bag and pull out three items, one for the past, the present, and the future.
· Do you read for yourself? Some people feel that they do not do well reading for themselves.
I do not read for myself. I found that I would always question those readings, and that in doubting them I was doing damage to my faith in my abilities.
· Do you teach bone reading?
Informally, yes, but not to the extent of doing public classes as I do with other things.
· What advice do you have for bone readers just starting out?
You want to create a set that acts as a community, where each piece has its own voice. Some pieces are mouthier than others. For instance, I find that Raccoon Baculums tend to be the mansplainers of the bone world, getting all up into every reading even when they have nothing relevant to say. When dealing with such a bone you can either treat him like you would that guy at the party who won’t shut up and ignore much of what he has to say, or you can invite someone to take his place, someone who knows only to talk when the subject is something he has knowledge of. I find that approaching each piece as an individual with it’s own quirks and interests is key, as is knowing how well they will interact together.
· Do you read professionally?
I do read bones professionally, along with Tarot and Lenormand. I book according to time, not modality, so a person can book for a half hour and choose what type of reading they want once we begin.
- Website: http://chasbogan.com
- Formats you read in: email, in person, and telephone
Happy Bone Reading!